Barfield repeatedly attacks Max Müller's theory that myth is a "disease of language": "We know now," he reminds us in Speaker's Meaning, "that language can only mean just what it is employed to mean; so that the idea of a universal mistake in the use of language is a nonstarter" (SM 88).

Barfield prefers instead the understanding of mythology proffered by the German Romantic idealists. In "Dream, Myth, and Philosophical Double Vision," for example, he refers with admiration to Schelling's conception that

mythology represents the repetition in the human spirit and consciousness of the processes of nature . . . that the myths also disclose the ties uniting man with the primary processes of world-creation and formation . . . that deep natural processes were at work even before the consolidation of matter; and man's destiny was still rooted in them, although his divorce from higher spiritual sources had already taken place. (RM 28)
For Barfield, mythology is the "ghost of concrete meaning" (PD 92). "It was not man who made the myths," we are told in "The Harp and the Camera, "but the myths, or the archetypal substance they reveal, which made man" (RM 75--Barfield is paraphrasing Steiner). Myth should be understood as "not merely analogous to dream, but as a parallel manifestation," "the historical equivalent of what in the dream is present and personal. One could put it perhaps that the myth betrays the 'phylogenic' emergence, as the dream betrays the 'ontogenetic' emergence of ordinary from extraordinary consciousness" (RM 26).
See in particular "Myth" (HEW 81-95), "Imagination and Inspiration" (RM 11-29), "Meaning and Myth" (PD 77-92).